The exhibition Emissaries of Peace: The 1762 Cherokee & British Delegations is set in the mid-eighteenth century, a time when Britain emerged as the preeminent European power in the struggle for eastern North America, and the Cherokee were a strong and populous force with which the British colonial governments in Virginia and South Carolina had to contend.
The focus of the exhibit is the events of 1762, when a young British officer named Henry Timberlake came to live at Chota, the principal town of the Overhill Cherokee, located on the Little Tennessee River, in what is now Monroe County. In the same year, Timberlake accompanied three Cherokee leaders, including the well known warrior/leader Ostenaco, to London. These events, along with Timberlake’s detailed observations of Cherokee life and culture, were described by him in his memoirs, published in 1765. The work remains the best contemporary source of information on the eighteenth-century Cherokee, including politics and international relations.
Project director Duane H. King, Director of the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, selected a number of quotes from the memoirs and illustrated the story with many artifacts of the time. A number of these are from the McClung Museum’s collections which were recovered during the excavations of Chota in the 1970s, part of the Tellico Reservoir project of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Other museum lenders include the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Peabody Essex Museum, and Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. Historic maps, drawings, paintings, a model of Chota, and two wonderful mannikins provide many images to help evoke the first-hand observations of Timberlake and the Cherokees. Also on view is an original first edition copy of Timberlake’s Memoirs.
Emissaries of Peace is a project of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Ken Blankenship, Executive Director, and is a We The People exhibit supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. A catalog by King, Blankenship, and Museum of the Cherokee Indian Education Director Barbara R. Duncan will be available. First Tennessee Foundation is the sponsor of the exhibit at the McClung Museum.